Is deep tech the innovation we’ve been missing in South Africa?

South Africa has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world, ranking in 15th place? There are various contributing factors from drunk driving to poor infrastructure maintenance and lack of vehicle safety regulations. With as little control we have over a driver, we advance automotive technology to create safer roads and vehicles. Sensorit’s motive is to increase road and vehicle safety in Africa using deep technology.

A smart mobility company

Deep tech, the first time I heard this phrase I was confused. Simply put, deep tech is using fundamental discoveries in science to offer significant advances over existing technologies. Deep tech offers technological solutions based on engineering breakthroughs to solve societal challenges. It doesn’t only advance technology but completely disrupts it and reinvents the wheel.

Do you think Uber is innovative? Sure, it is disrupting an entire industry and has millions of daily customers. However, it has leveraged the sharing economy and has built its service using existing technologies. In other words, it hasn’t reinvented the wheel, it has just made it arguably better.

As emerging markets, it’s difficult to rely on cut and paste solutions as they lack context. Sensorit and other startups alike are in a unique position with access to market and access to research partners. We bridge the gap between research done by institutions and market readiness to commercialization for new innovative technologies. Startups are the new kids on the block who have space to completely reinvent how things work.

Imagine your car being able to detect potholes and respond accordingly before you see them or banking on WhatsApp in vernacular using a Siri-like bot. That’s the work of deep technology developed by local startups like Sensorit. They don’t only build innovative technologies, but ones that are fit to our continental challenges. 

Creative innovation is the backbone of Sensorit’s solutions, innovating around flaws in our regulations and local economic structures. From retrofittable hardware that can turn any vehicle into a smart vehicle, ADAS systems to sensor technology that will allow cars to detect potholes and autonomous vehicles. 

With retrofittable technology, Sensorit has considered our economic reality and impracticability of having to replace an entire car for new technology. This also combats the  challenge of unsafe vehicles being sold such as the gvm bakkie and Dutson go that scored zero on their safety test. The financial reality for many South Africans makes safety a luxury concern when purchasing vehicles. These are the realities of many emerging markets.

Dutson Go safety test

The application of deep technologies is widespread in developed economies, however, emerging markets face unique challenges therefore we cannot rely on cut and paste solutions. Championing our own development is of most importance if we want to respond with technology that will respond sustainably and reinvent our economies. Startups and companies engaging in this form of technology could put us light years ahead with problem-solving. Could this possibly be the future we are waiting for?